There is something fascinating about watching the NBA universe react to Rondo’s homophobic comments towards Bill Kennedy. It was clearly unacceptable, and it is heartening to hear that sentiment expressed around the league. The different ways in which that sentiment has been expressed, however, paint a much more layered picture. In Megdal’s piece, Sam Mitchell is quoted saying “I don’t think Rondo’s that type of person,” which seems to be a fairly common reaction – that in the heat of the moment you seek the thing that will hurt someone the deepest, regardless of what that is or who they are. There is also the school that believes, like Jose Calderon, “if you say that, you believe in that, you have to go out and say this is what I think.” The conversation is taken up at length in Zach Lowe’s recent podcast with Kevin Arnovitz, which is required listening if you are at all interested in the topic.
Steph Curry’s dominance has given rise to this developing subgenre of sports writing, in which writers talk about how well player X is performing, and how incredible it is that they are being overlooked. Russell Westbrook is perhaps best suited for this treatment; he’s an explosive, polarizing player who plays Curry’s position, in the same way, both Rodrigo y Gabriella and Dragonforce play guitar music. Pina hits all the right notes in his piece: the awe-inspiring boost Russ gives the Thunder’s offense, the unique advantages and drawbacks of his game, and the unprecedented fervor with which he plays. Watching Russ doesn’t offer the same feeling of transcendent disbelief you get from Curry, but it’s a hell of a rush.
Speaking of Curry, have you heard that he’s having a very good season? Some might even say historically good, which sounds incredibly impressive even if you don’t put in the work to fully understand what it means. Fortunately for the lazy, Fenrich seems to revel in doing the legwork, which means we can easily understand just how incredible Steph Curry is. He starts with a list of players who’ve made significant increases in points per game between two seasons, and then zooms in closer and closer on Curry’s specific performance. The data takes him to some unexpected places, and the conclusion he gets to at the end is actually pretty fascinating. You’ll have to read it to know what it is, though.
- How Did Basketball End Up With Four Versions (And Counting) Of One Stat? – Neil Paine, FiveThirtyEight
Statistical analysis is an incredibly important part of writing about, watching, and discussing basketball in 2015, which is why it is so frustrating every time an article like this makes me realize I don’t understand it at all. If you, like me, are a statistical nincompoop, then there is a lot of value in reading Paine’s examination of all the different stats we call usage rate. I, of course, was completely unaware there was more than one usage stat, let alone four that are all measured in totally different ways. It’s a rare article that manages to make you feel smarter and stupider at the same time, and Paine performs the task expertly. There’s also some cool stuff on the history of stats in the NBA that adds a little extra depth to the whole thing. Great read.
A well-crafted basketball roundtable is one of life’s simple pleasures. When they’re focused on a single topic, you get to enjoy the back and forth of writers with different perspectives going deep on the issue. But when they’re multi-issue like this one, you just get these quick hits of easily digestible content that you can engage with as deeply or shallowly as you choose. Don’t care about Towns v Porzingis for an All-Star nod? Skip the section! Decide you’re not feeling one of the writers? Ignore their answers! Of course, since HP employs a large stable of talented scribes, you’ll want to read everything in this one, especially their attempted rebrands of the Grizzlies now that the Grit and Grind era is dead.